After working a job in the city and heading home on the train rather late I ran into one of my Rutgers colleagues. She and I got to talking about my next blog post and I mentioned I wanted to talk bout the "non costume" related things I keep in my costume kit. She gave me her go to item which I keep with me as well. So, here are our combined top three things to always keep in your costume kit.
I have about three out of nine answers when it comes to living life; which is fine. No one has all the answers. If someone tells you that they are trying to sell you something...or so I've been sold...I mean told. One thing I still deal with as a young professional in the theatre business is anxiety. Not about doing my job thankfully. I can stay calm and collected for the most part and have a healthy way of dealing with my job stress (more on that in another blog). No, my anxiety comes from the fear of not being able to support myself and those I love through doing what I love.
What we do isn't easy. Especially as an independent contractor, you are constantly looking for work, sending out inquiries, looking at job boards, etc. Sometimes the pressure of making bills and having "enough" money can get you down. Just recently I had a moment of doubt and anxiety while looking for my next gig. Right now, not much is available for someone who can't pick up and move right away. I still have one semester of a thesis to complete before I get my MFA secret club badge. They give you those things at graduation right? All jokes aside, I do struggle with the anxiety of doing what fulfills me as a creative person and what will put a roof over my head and food on my plate.
As it just recently was graduation season, there have been many commencement speeches about a place the arts has in this ever changing world. How we as artists or creative people can make a living and a difference at the same time. I think it is all about building a network of people who can rely on each other and putting yourself out there as much as possible: sending emails to designers you admire, directors you have worked with in the past, theatres you know may be looking for someone to fill a position you know you are qualified for.
For the past few weeks a video of Will Ferrell's commencement speech at USC has been going around social media. I watched it the morning after an anxiety attack and it helped bring a few things into perspective. Ferrell's "throw[ing] as many darts at the dart board" analogy gave me hope in my ability to persevere. Hey, I'm great at darts! The dart analogy was, to me, about getting yourself out into the field and saying "yes" as many times as you can (like in improv). Not to say "yes" to something detrimental, but to say "yes" to something that may scare you a little.
Ferrell also mentioned having a supportive mother. I think it is very important to have a strong support system of people. I count my parents, sister, professors, boyfriend, and friends as a large part of why I continue to succeed in my chosen field. Without their support and occasional string pulling I would not be where I am today.
Despite all this anxiety is something I still struggle with. It is something I don't have an answer for. But, it is something I can work on. As a theatre professional I will never have all the answers. That is the joy of life theatre. Each show, each performance, is different. You have to be an ever adapting organism. For the rest of you out there who struggle with aspects of our profession that leave you doubting from time to time, you are not alone. I'm right there with you. Maybe we just need to remember...
Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out."- Will Ferrell
(click here for the whole speech)
May marks the beginning of finals, graduation parties, and for most arts students, portfolio reviews/shows. Over the past three years I have picked up a few tips and tricks for creating a cohesive and inviting display that I thought I would condense into five tips this month. I just finished my fifth portfolio review of my graduate career with one more this fall and "the big one" coming next January. Since it is the season we think of getting our work out there, here are five tips to helping you have a professional portfolio set up.
1. Keep your fonts in the same family
When printing out your resume, business cards, notations for projects, name plate, etc. make sure your fonts have a dialogue together. For example if you take a look at my resume you will see my name and title sections are in the same family as the titles for my online portfolio. The body of my resume is a different font entirely, but the two fonts do not draw attention over each other.
I like the look of a serif paired with a sans serif, but it is up to you. Font.com has a nice short article to help you pick which you like best. If you choose to mix your two fonts like I did, make sure you keep them organized. I like to make my serif font titles, headers, etc. while a sans serif is good for the body of a section. Don't feel like you need to mix fonts though. This entire blog is a serif and easily readable.
Pro tip: NEVER use Comic Sans. Just don't.
2. Don't create a still life
People have come to see your work and as you questions about your process. It becomes hard for them to do so if you lay out your work in a way that does not invite rummaging through your sketches or swatches.
Organize your work in binders or hang up pieces that you want to be viewed a certain way. You can also lay out pieces loose leaf, but be prepared to have them move around your table a bit. I tend to put out little plaques that keep the table divided into sections without creating physical dividers.
People want to look at your work. Let them.
3. Have a clean background for your work
I use black fabric tablecloths to hang over my tables and board if it is not black already. This creates a clean surface for my designs to shine on top of. Those looking at my portfolio are not distracted by a crazy colorful background because the black does not compete with my designs.
Sometimes a design in your background can work well if you have a well planned out theme and keep the color neutral. Color competes with your work.
4. Have an editor
Have a trusted friend or colleague read through any of your written material before printing, mounting, etc. Apps such as Grammarly or Ginger (nybookeditors.com has a list here) can also be helpful before putting out your work for all to see.
5. Create a focal point of your display
When setting up my portfolios I always try to create movement for the viewers. You tell stories with your design, try to tell a story with your display. For one portfolio I showed my design process for three characters of a recent play I designed that went through five or so redesigns. This was a really interesting way to present how I work to my audience. Another time I created a color collage with photos from the designed show and renderings. The color drew the eye first to the collage and then allowed the viewer to explore the rest of my display after quickly learning what it was about.